The popular flea and tick collar, Bayer’s Seresto collar, has now been linked to over 1,400 deaths in both dogs and cats. Dog owner, Rhona Bomwell, purchased a Seresto collar for their 9-year-old Papillion for the first time. The next day, Pierre the Pappillion had a seizure and collapsed while his mom was making dinner. Bromwell called the police as her beloved dog stopped breathing and didn't take to CPR. The police escorted her to the pet hospital where Pierre passed away before he could receive medical treatment. This is just one instance of this flea collar being linked to pet deaths, along with tens of thousands of injured animals and hundreds of instances of harming humans as well as shown by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents. Despite these records, the EPA has not warned the public of the risks.
Photo Credit: Tanya Breen
Flea collars like Seresto work by releasing small amounts of pesticide onto the animal for months at a time. The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit that acts as watchdogs towards the EPA, obtained the records of the deaths and injuries through a public record request. The non-profit then provided the documents to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
Photo Credit: Bayer
Since the collars have been introduced in 2012, the EPA has received reports of at least 1,698 pet deaths related to the Seresto collar. They have also received over 75,000 incident reports related to the collars including nearly 1,000 involving human harm. Karen McCormack, a retired EPA employee, stated that the agency has known about the associated risks but won't inform the public. “The EPA appears to be turning a blind eye to this problem, and after seven years of an increasing number of incidents, they are telling the public that they are continuing to monitor the situation,” she said. “But I think this is a significant problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.” She also stated that the collars have the most incidents of any pesticide pet product she’s ever seen.
In response to a question about whether the product is safe, an agency spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the two pesticides in Seresto have “been found eligible for continued registration” based on the best available science, including incident data. “No pesticide is completely without harm, but EPA ensures that there are measures on the product label that reduce risk,” the spokesperson said. “The product label is the law, and applicators must follow label directions. Some pets, however, like some humans, are more sensitive than others and may experience adverse symptoms after treatment.”
The EPA has a history of not informing the public or taking action over harmful pesticides. They received about 4,600 incident reports regarding containing tetrachlorvinphos, including 363 deaths. Flea collars that contain this pesticide are sold under the names Hartz Ultraguard, Hartz InControl and Longlife.
Photo Credit: Hartz
Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity and an expert on U.S. pesticide regulation, believes that those numbers regarding Hartz are most likely under reported.
If your pet uses a Seresto collar, it's suggested to speak with your veterinarian on whether stye recommend continued usage or not.
Your vet weighs what's best for your pet and recommends what they believe to be safe, effective products, says Randy Wheeler, DVM and executive director of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association. "Flea-tick collars work by interacting with the skin in order to distribute the preventative medication and should therefore be placed around the neck snug enough to create skin contact, but allowing the applicator to fit two fingers beneath the collar,"writes Alicen Tracey, DVM and member of the Daily Paws Advisory Board. You want to check the collar regularly to ensure it's not too tight or too loose as it can cause irritation.
It's also important to keep in mind that there are many fake collars out there being sold online. "These products are typically purchased online, and are designed to look identical to the company they are trying to knock off," Alicen Tracey writes. "The easiest way to prevent purchasing a counterfeit product is to purchase through a reputable source such as your veterinary office, their online pharmacy, the seller's direct website (if applicable), or online pharmacies that require veterinary sign off."
Long story short: consult with your vet as they can best recommend a proper flea and tick medication for your pets.
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